The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) is again calling on across the board income support for postgraduate students that was recommended as part of the Bradley Review. Recent research into student completions as well as the deteriorating mental health of postgraduate students should be ringing alarm bells within the higher education sector and the upcoming budget is the perfect time to act.
Currently research students and some postgraduate coursework students are not able to access income support such as Youth Allowance or Austudy. A report into retention rates in regional universities released today states that “The findings show financial assistance, support and stability, including through income support and scholarships, are critical to these students’ chances of retention, success and completion.”
Research into the deteriorating mental health among PhD students has also shown that stress levels facing postgraduate students has them at breaking point. While the complexities of this mental health crisis requires a massive cultural change in research training, some of the stress factors such as finances can be addressed for many students through basic income support.
“The Bradley review called for Austudy and Youth Allowance to be extended to all postgraduate students and it is time that this recommendation was adhered to” Says CAPA National President Peter Derbyshire. “Postgraduate students are at breaking point with the stress of an uncertain job market, pressures to complete research degrees earlier, and a financial situation that is clearly contributing to retention and completion rate issues.”
CAPA has called for expanded income support in every budget since the plan was cancelled in the 2014 Mid-year Economic and Fiscal Outlook and will continue to do so until adequate support is given.
“If the Federal Government really cares about completion rates and an innovative workforce it is time to come to the table and offer all students the safety net of income support.”
For comment: Peter Derbyshire CAPA National President M: 0435 047 817 firstname.lastname@example.org
Facilitating success for students from low socioeconomic status backgrounds at regional universities: http://federation.edu.au/__
Work organization and mental health problems in PhD students: http://www.sciencedirect.com/
Higher education: Remedies for low regional retention rates: http://www.theaustralian.com.